stiff kitties is totally a band name

Labels are Very Important

I am continuing my exploration of the Room of Dead Things.  Today I am paying particular attention to the labels on the boxes.

The Purveyor of Dead Things is usually good about putting labels on the outsides of the boxes.  (I say “usually,” because last year, I made sure that twenty boxes of the Dead Cat Ballet came in completely unmarked.  Opening them all to discern the contents was like a Very Gruesome Yule.  I still giggle every time I think about it!)


Those are sharks, but not the sharks the human female is hoping for.  She should have learned by now to live with disappointment.

Some of the boxes bear additional helpful notes from the human female or her staff.


I know *I* wouldn’t want to use eyeballs that were past their best-by date!

Even preserved goods don’t last forever.  Larger items, especially, can degrade over time.  Indeed, older stock is clearly marked “use first.”


Hmm. I think I will add a few more helpful label items.  

They say a picture is worth a thousand words:


It helps that my godlike magic lets me see inside the cartons.  Caution labels are always nice:


Uh oh!  Better mark this one too, to avoid a catastrophe.


Ehehehe!  Who am I kidding? That box is heavy enough and wet enough inside that, warning label or no, someone’s going to go home some night redolent of Eau de chat preservé.

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Time For Dead Things Again Already?

I hadn’t realized the summer was nearly over, but Odin’s eyepatch!  It’s time for the Dead Cat Ballet again already!  The human female put in her usual multi-page, multi-ton, multi-thousand dollar order with the Purveyor of Dead Things back in May, and today’s the day they’re set to arrive!

She put in a work order with Slow, Silent, and Costly to have the post taken out of the double doors downstairs, so there will be room to get a pallet jack through.  It was supposed to have been done by 8:00 a.m., since the dead things are coming at 9:00.

Could I let things proceed as scripted?  No, I could not!

It’s 8:40. The human female is just coming onto campus and her techs have just this moment sent a text.  Great Frigga’s Corset!  The post is not out of the door, and is that…?  Yes it is!  The delivery truck is here!

Now she’s human female is on the phone to SSC, asking them not so nicely why the post is still in the doorway.  Ehehehee!   They DID take the post out of the doorway at 7:00, but I brought this gross breach of security to the remodeling crew on the first floor, who very helpfully put it back in.  SSC is on their way to remove it again.

Very well.  It’s out again.  But the techs are saying the borrowed pallet jack, which has to be in the basement to receive the goods from the elevator (because, you will recall, a loaded pallet jack will not fit the elevator, so the goods have to go down by themselves) will not fit in the elevator.  The human female has told them that, yes, it will fit, but they will have to be… creative.

At last!  The post is out, the spare pallet jack is in the basement, and help has arrived for the unloading.  The first pallet is on its way into the elevator and…

…it’s too wide!  It won’t go through the elevator doors!  This is priceless!  The delivery men have lowered the pallet and are picking it up again from the narrower side.  Oooh–the suspense is killing me!  Ah!   Now it just fits in the elevator.  Good show!

Snort! The human female has just realized that once the loaded pallet is in the elevator, there isn’t room to lean in and push the button for the basement.  She should have thought of that before.  She’s texting the basement crew to call the elevator.


I must admit, that was impressive.  The human female and her crew moved 4,240 pounds (or about 31 human-female-units) from tailgate to store room in 30 minutes.  It would be more impressive if they’d managed to get all the boxes on the shelves.  However, the Purveyor of Dead Things sent twenty or thirty unlabeled boxes, and no one knows if they’re hearts or frogs or kidneys or fish or eyeballs or what.  They’ve all got to be opened.

Some of them are suspiciously light.  The suspense is killing us all!

Ehehehehee!  This is beautiful!  I told the packing crew at PODT to let their imagination run wild with the packing, and they’ve outdone themselves this year.  Each of the mystery boxes is stuffed with yards and yards and yards of crumpled paper.  It’s like Yule! Anything could be in here! One box is less than half full of earthworms.  Another is less than half full of sheep eyes.  This one has–count them!—four measly clams.  This one has three little gray fish.  This one has just one pig heart.



Another has only the packing slip and several copies of the “our preserving fluid is so safe you could almost drink it” card.

My favorite, though, is the long, skinny box that looks as if it might contain a poster.  The human female does not remember ordering a poster, but there it is.  The contents?  Three small jars of PTC test paper strips.  This is brilliant.


Well, all the boxes have been sorted and put on the shelves.  Now the techs have to count it all.  Given how the PODT has shorted us on at least one line item every year, it’s a safe bet that something will be off.

There’s a multi-page packing slip to corroborate, along with a copy of the original purchase order, because sometimes the PODT doesn’t send what was ordered, and sometimes what’s on the packing slip doesn’t agree with what was received.

Each box needs to be opened–because who knows what’s in them.

Crayfish?  Check.

Grasshoppers?  Check.

Fetal piggies?  Check.

Tiny, bony fishies?


Dead cats?

Dead cats?

Stiff kitties?

(crickets chirping.)

We do not have dead cats today.  It would not be the Dead Cat Ballet unless there were a problem with the defunct felines.  The dire national Dead Cat Conundrum is still very much a “thing.”  The stiff kitties are, alas, on indefinite back order.  Also missing from the order are the sheep plucks.  A pluck is a nasty thing–trachea and lungs–and the human female is just as glad they didn’t show up.


Thor’s bitty ballpeen! That is a lot of kidneys.  And a even lotter of hearts, because they sent us one extra.

And it had its own box.


Uh oh.  Looks like there’s a discrepancy with the J2 (double injected) sharks.  We could almost call this yearly onslaught of formalinic fun the Dead Shark Tango, because it seems there is always a problem with the sharks as well.  And since the fancy, double-injected sharks are for the upper-level Chordate Anatomy classes taught by the Big Boss, a discrepancy is a Big Deal.  The human female ordered 14 males and 5 females.  What was in the boxes?  15 females and 5 males.  The PODT didn’t have what she wanted, so they sent what they had.

Thanks to my meddling, she’ll now have to spend a lot of time on the phone with the PODT.  She’ll probably find it easier (if more expensive) to just order 9 male sharks on a separate PO, one marked “NO SUBSTITUTIONS!!!” IN ABOUT SIX PLACES.

Now do something about that mess!


It looks like Hurricane Mittens came through.

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A Blast From the Past

You have read my tales of the Dead Cat Conundrum, which in years past has caused the human female no end of grief.  How to source, buy, arrange shipping for, take delivery of, inventory, and put away hundreds of dead cats at a time.  You have heard me relate that, in this realm of Midgard, dead cats for dissection are scarcer than synapses in Thor’s skull.  There are no cats to be had.  Nary a whisker.  Not a whiff of a defunct feline.  Not a breath of a mention of passed-on pussies.  The scarcity is such that the Anatomy and Physiology classes have adopted a virtual cat dissection software program instead.  The human female has not been able to reliably secure even the few cats needed for the upper-level Chordate Anatomy course.

Which is why she was so comprehensively gobsmacked to have received this shipment today.  Look, Sigyn!  Some dead cats came!


To say that the human female never in a million years expected this would be a big, hairy understatement with training wheels and a blue felt fedora.

I mean, look at when this order was originally made!


Eighteen months!  That just might be a record!

If I didn’t think her dorky visage would traumatize everyone, I’d attach a photo of her with her mouth hanging open in slack-jawed befuddlement.

The best part of this bit of mischief is that this order was made with BAMN, which is long since defunct.  The human female and the departmental bean counters are going to have to find some way to PAY for these tabby cadavers with some without a functional open PO.   Ehehehehe!

I’m betting I can stretch this out a little longer, so stay tuned…

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Mischief Update–Bits and Pieces

I haven’t had time to do much since we’ve been back, but some of the projects I set in motion before we left are paying off.  Remember kiddies:  villainy is as much about planning as it is about malice.

The human female is back at work and none too happy about it.  Yesterday it occurred to her to check on one of her orders that should have been here already.  This was one she had been concerned about because BAMN had given her two contradictory messages about it.  One said, “The BAMN gods have smiled and your order has been sent to the vendor.”  The other said, “Wail and gnash your teeth, for your PO has failed to convert and has not been sent.”  Back before our trip, she even called the vendor with the PO number, and they check and assured her that All Was Well.  Fast forward to now, when the goods have failed to arrive.  She called the vendor again, and they told her they had no record of the transaction.  This sparked a flurry of e-mails and phone calls to BAMN people and vendor people, and it turns out that yes indeedy, the vendor most certainly DID have a PO with that number.  From a different customer in California.  A few more e-mails served to have the BAMN people re-send the failed order.  If all goes well, the shipment should be here in the nick of time.  But we all know who the BAMN god really is, don’t we, so how likely would you say that is?

More BAMN fun: One of the humans’ biggest gripes has been that there has been no catalog punch-out for Vendor Who’s Responsible.  All orders must be typed in by hand.  No clicky-buy-ee for you!  Well, there now IS a punch-out catalog.  Hooray.  But I poked the system and, while it works, there is no way to attach a quote document, so no way to drop items in the cart at agreed-upon prices.  Not so hooray.  Ehehehehe.

Something else to wrestle through BAMN–the ongoing Defunct Feline Conundrum (hereafter referred to as DFC, for short)  Midgardians are going to have to rethink their colloquialism, “There isn’t room to swing a dead cat.”  Why?  THERE ARE NO DEAD CATS TO BE SWUNG!  The nationwide shortage of dead cats for dissection has worsened.  The cats the human female ordered last December from the Purveyor of Dead Things have not arrived and most likely will not.  Nor have the 325 she ordered in March.  Other Vendors Numbers 1-5 have no cats at all.  Other Vendor Number 6 can promise cats, but due to the Great and Pungent Moldy Cat Incident of ’09, Vendor Number 6 is, shall we say, not a preferred provider. Still, lab personnel have indicated a willingness to bathe any fungally-challenged cats lovingly in disinfectant weekly if only they appear.  The Purveyor of Squiggly Things (who also does Dead Things) this morning has promised that they can make stiff kitties happen. The human female awaits a firm quote and a promise signed in blood of first-born children if les minous morts do not materialize.

At the same time that the DFC is going on, there is a new batch of feral kittens under the adjacent building on campus. The human capacity for brain dichotomy is a wonder to behold.  Half of the human female’s brain is all “Awww!  SO cute!” and the other half is, “Dead cats! Dead cats! My kingdom for dead cats!”  I expect that a full cerebral melt-down is imminent.

The human female’s work group has been short-handed for a while now.  One of her senior Techs escaped left to go to graduate school.  (And he was the tall one, handy for Fetching Things from High Places, more’s the pity.)  The job posting for a new Tech has been out for some time now, but due to the ongoing budget woes and wars, the human female was not allowed to interview any of the seven applicants. Now she’s allowed, but one of the best applicants doesn’t actually live in Texas and two have fudged their years of experience, so interviews will be fun.

Still no hallway doors on the toilets on the third floor of the human female’s workplace.  There has been a declaration that such doors would not ADA compliant.  I fail to see how proposed third-floor doors are more obstructive to persons with limited mobility than the doors on fourth, second, and first, but my brain is larger than a pea, so perhaps I do not have the proper perspective.

As expected, the lawn really liked the two feet or so of rain that fell while we were gone.  I sat on the porch with a tall glass of iced tea and watched the female wrestle the mower around all one evening until dark, all slimy with sweat and sunscreen (non-greasy formula my eye!) and insect repellent.  At the end of the job, I nudged the mower and it wouldn’t turn off, so probably it’s broken and she has that to look forward to next time she gets off her bum and does yard work.

The superannuated feline, who is keeping the local vet and compounding pharmacy in business, has been put on a special new diet.  This diet includes gooshy food, a delicacy of which she was heretofore unaware.  It has to be the wet stuff because no agency in the Nine Realms will induce her to eat dry food with the prescription potassium powder sprinkled on it.  Nor will she accept the powder in proffered petroleum jelly, which the gormless creature will normally consume straight out of the jar as an alternative to expensive hair-ball medicine.  No, gooshy food it must be. Now, having tasted this ambrosia, she turns up her whiskers at the new expensive kibble.  She can sometimes be persuaded to nibble some kibble if it’s mixed with the gooshy food, but sometimes not.  I’ve had a little coaching session with her, and she has learned to fling the wet stuff around quite well when she eats, and she likes the stinkiest flavor best.  Face it, humans:  the days of having a low-maintenance pet are over.  My favorite part of all of this is how I’ve tweaked things so that none of the the feline’s three prescriptions are ever due for a refill at the same time.

Speaking of prescriptions, I’ve been poking about in the human female’s medicaments as well.  It takes a fair amount of drugs to keep her running, and the mail-order-pharmacy probably has her hideous face on a Frequent Customer poster someplace.  I like to tinker with their billing, so that one month they say she has a credit and issue her a refund and the next they send her a nasty-gram saying her account has an amount 21 days past due.  No one can figure it out, because the humans are pretty good about paying bills when they come in, and the overages and underages never correspond to any actual transaction.  I am a man of mystery and can keep this up forever, if need be.

Now that the days are flirting seriously with heat indices near 108°F,  I made the human female’s missing black glove magically reappear.  In the car.  Where she looked.  Multiple times.  I’ll bet anything you like she manages to lose it again before winter.  She has already managed to lose a water bottle and a pepper mill this week.  Who loses a pepper mill?!

Let me see… Forgotten lunch, leaking leftovers, failure to defrost dinner ingredients, in a timely manner, assorted computer woes, a brief but highly memorable stomach virus—yep, I think that’s the lot.  I miss England, but it’s good to be back doing what I do best!

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